By Frank James
About 450 people are probably worrying today where their next jobs in the movie industry will be following Walt Disney Studio's announcement Friday that it's turning the lights out at ImageMovers Digital, the studio behind motion-capture animation movies like Jim Carrey's "A Christmas Carol" and Tom Hanks' "The Polar Express" (While the latter movie has its flaws, there's something about it that causes me to watch it every holiday season.")
The Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog has the sad news:
In a cost-savings move, Walt Disney Studios is shutting down director and producer Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers Digital studio in Marin County, which employs 450 people. Those employees will be phased out over the course of the year until the facility closes by January 2011.
Zemeckis' San Rafel-based company, which Disney has been bankrolling, produces motion-capture animation technology that was used in the filmmaker's 2009 big-budget holiday movie, "A Christmas Carol."
"Given today's economic realities, we need to find alternative ways to bring creative content to audiences and IMD no longer fits into our business model," Disney Studios President Alan Bergman said in a statement.
For a place that traffics in so much escapist fantasy, Hollywood constantly proves that it's mercilessly rooted in reality at moments like this.